Road Rage Victim Falsely Accused of Abusive Behaviour
What happens in a legal system where a complaint made by an individual without evidence, is taken to Court by Prosecutors? The result of a system that relies on complainants being honest, is unpredictable and strange behaviour amongst the population. Such behaviour is the result of a legal system that does not protect the rights of individuals. The consequences of a clumsily created evidence law, penetrates all facets of law and day to day living.
An example of such behaviour in relation to traffic issues in the UAE has been recently brought to our attention when a Danish man and former law enforcement professional "JG", was living in Dubai when he experienced what is not at all uncommon.
JG had been driving on a motorway, when a large vehicle, driven by an Emirati man, began dangerously tailgating JG. JG was unable to move out of the way because he was blocked in by other vehicles. He motioned to the Emirati man to back up in a polite way. However, when JG was able to move out of the way and to the next lane, the Emirati man tried to hit JG with his car. Fortunately, JG was able to avoid the two attempts that had been made to "side swipe" him.
The Emirati man sped off into the distance but was later caught in traffic on route to Dubai. JG was able to take a photograph of his license plate and that of a witness. He motioned to the Emirati man that he would report him to the police station.
Following the incident, JG made a complaint at Bur Dubai Police Station. After providing the license plate number to the Officer, the police were unable to match the number in their database and advised JG that the vehicle was not in the country.
Two months past and JG was detained at a border for "dangerous and unethical misconduct" though the reasons for the accusation were not provided. The authorities later informed his wife that Jan was a "danger to people".
JG was taken to various police stations and held in custody for a total of seven hours, two hours of which were in the police car rear cage in very high temperatures.
JG learned that they had just located the Emirati driver who had initiated a complaint against JG in retaliation. JG was thereafter offered the opportunity to "drop his complaint" against the Emirati man and he could then "hope" that in turn, the Emirati would drop his complaint against JG. However, JG was not advised of the consequences if the Emirati did not drop his accusations and therefore made the decision to maintain his. JG was subsequently released but his passport was of course, confiscated and he was unable to leave the country.
JG experienced extensive issues with the police and their general level of administrative competence, with outright errors in their reports.
JG hired a lawyer who advised him not to worry because "muslims can not lie". This did not give JG the confidence that he needed and nor did his overall performance and so he hired our colleague who was able to resolve the matter speedily. JG left the UAE within six days.
JG is quite fortunate in that he was able to leave within a few weeks of the incident. Many other people in the same situation, would not be so lucky. However, the trauma of the situation and the uncertainty as to the outcome of the matter is something that could be obviated with revision to the police enforcement rules, arrest procedures, laws of evidence and prosecution rules.
This is not an isolated incident and these types of cases account for a number of queries to us on a regular basis. We have recently advised a British man who was nearly run over while at a petrol station. When he approached the Egyptian drivers in a polite way, they drove off and made a complaint against him so that they would be the "first ones to make a complaint".
Road rage has long been an issue in the UAE. Any obscenities or rude gestures will be considered moral crimes and can be punished by six months imprisonment or if the gesture is towards a woman or child, the sentence can be doubled to one year's incarceration.
In cases where a driver has committed a road traffic offence, what is to prevent them from reporting the victim for moral crimes as a protection to themselves? The goal in cases where the traffic offender reports the other party for moral crimes, is to force them under duress to mutually drop the charges.
If the victim of the traffic offender does not agree to drop their charges because they were accurate, they too will end up being dragged through the judicial process, a costly and risky gamble that could result in a prison sentence. This is an unacceptable risk and most people will simply drop the initial complaint.
Where the State is willing to prosecute people for complaints in the absence of any evidence or supportive witnesses, we end up in a society where we each hold the power of prosecution and imprisonment over others. Prosecuting individuals with no more evidence than one's word is the stem of the issue here and the cause of retaliatory complaints.
A complaint by an individual without evidence or witness should only be recorded, addressed unofficially and not taken to prosecution. Likewise, if a complaint is made for immoral behaviour, this should not be taken to the Courts without supportive evidence.